Marriage. It's a word and a concept that has endured the test of time, and inflamed more than a few culture wars.
Despite the fact that we humans have been grappling with nuptials for multiple millennia, we still can't quite put our finger on what "marriage" actually means.
Funny, then, that I should stumble upon an 1895 book called Sexuality of Nature, by the botanist Leo Grindon, and find the most superb, progressive definition of marriage I've ever read.
The 1890s are not known for their progressive attitudes toward sex. It was during this time, The Victorian Era, that psychologists, political scientists, and other social detectives were attempting to dissect sex. It was also during this time that a fairly unknown botanist named Leo Grindon penned the book Sexuality of Nature, in which he wrote this marvelous observation:
Nature is a system of nuptials. Everything in creation partakes either of masculine or feminine qualities; -- animals and plants, earth, air, water, color, heat, light, music, thought, speech, the sense of the beautiful, the adaptation of the soul for heaven, -- all exist as the offspring or product of a kind of marriage. Restricted commonly to the institution of wedlock as it exists among mankind, the word "marriage" rightfully holds a meaning far wider.
Though huge blockquotes like that above totally turn me off, I could not resist reprinting Grindon's words.
So often we hear the right wing decry the "homosexual" assault on marriage. As Grindon would most likely point out, however, such social groups have a decidedly narrow definition of the natural, universal coalescence of two beings. Marriage is not between a man and a woman; it is between two complementary entities which can breed an entirely new being, species or sentiment.
As Grindon says, "Everything, in a word, that vies charm to social existence, everything that makes a happy home, everything that is fragrant of affection, -- has its life and being identified with the heavenly privilege of sex."
I have no idea what Grindon, who was straight, married to a woman and writing under wholly heteronormative conditions, would say about gay rights. If his writing on plants is to be believed, however, he would whole-heartedly approve and use his incredibly forward-thinking politics to educate the right wing just how universal marriage can be, and why we need to celebrate it in all of its forms.
Yes, Grindon used a male/female dichotomy as his theoretical basis. His remarks, however, suggest a belief that everything, regardless of projected gender, came from a marriage of some sort. "Everything," he insisted, "that gives charm to social existence, everything that makes home, everything that is fragrant of affection, -- has its life and being identified with the heavenly privilege of sex." Sex, contrary to what social conservatives would like you to believe, produces more than just children. It produces love, creativity and hope.
But perhaps I'm wrong. It's happened before. What do you think, Projectors? Would Leo Grindon approve of same-sex nuptials? Read his entire book here.